The Vine Press at Steyning has produced interesting work,
typical of this free and enjoyable period, and its first book,
Lillygay, issued in 1920, expresses the character of what
followed. It is an anthology of anonymous poems. The woodcuts
by Percy West are cheerful and chapbook in style, like Tuer’s
books from the late nineteenth century or Lovat Fraser’s more
recently, or Jack Yeats in the Cuala Broadsheets. Forty special
copies were bound delightfully in pink paper boards and green
buckram back, with printed labels and hand coloured. The type
is nothing to write home about but the book is a success—ballads
and rough woodcuts, the beautiful and carefree colouring.
Private Presses, Colin Franklin.
The Vine Press also issued
“Lillygay” (5s), an anthology of anonymous poems edited and
compiled by the author of “Swift Wings,” with some excellent
woodcuts contributed by Eric and Percy West. Decidedly unusual
and perhaps rather daring in the eyes of the “unce’ guid,” these
old-world ballads have a racy character and rich promise about
them that is original and attractive. Here are collected such
ancient masterpieces as “Johnnie Faa,” “The Gowans Sae Gae,”
“Burd Ellen,” and “Elore Lo,” the innocent, light-hearted
amorism of “Bonfire Song” and “Rantum Tantum,” the by no means
mealy-mouthed “Sick Dick,” which is as clever as it is funny,
and the exquisite “Lyke-Wake Dirge,” with its dire, forbidding
Catholicism. Most of these poems tell of bygone times and
manners, but a few at least, such as the lovely “Colophon,” are
modern in tone and in expression. They are, as the prologue
says: “Tonguefuls of words, but new words of a new world, newly
coloured by the angel of a new time.
Aberdeen Press and Journal, 21 March 1921.